The first canyon lookout point offers a stunning view of the canyon. There is ample parking available and the viewpoint is handicap accessible. On the day we visited there was a food stand on site with waters, sodas and snacks available for purchase. But this isn’t a place to escape the tourists. Restroom facilities are also available here. A stop at this lookout point is worth it, but don’t let it deter you from continuing the drive up to the top of the canyon. There is more to see for sure!
There are two routes up Waimea Canyon. A few of the guidebooks I read recommended taking Highway 50 (Kokee Road) out of Kekaha but after doing both routes I prefer taking Highway 550 (Waimea Canyon Road) out of the town on Waimea up the canyon. I found this route to be more scenic and offers better views. There are plenty of places to pull over on both routes to stop, take pictures or explore. One word of advice: fill up your car before you make your way up the canyon. It’s a 40 mile drive up the canyon and there are no gas stations on either Kokee Road nor Waimea Canyon Drive. Make a day out of this drive, stopping often to enjoy the majesty of the canyon. There are also 45 miles of hiking trails in the area and trail maps are available at the ranger station. This is one of my favorite drives, ever. I love it so much I did it twice on my last trip and would have gone a third time if I could have.
Probably Earth's most beautiful view, but sometimes likes to hide unpredictably. Driving up, it was perfectly clear but suddenly changed. Plan your timing slowly so that you are not rushed to return, and can stick around long enough in case there are clouds. They may (or may not) clear away as fast as they came.
As you hike or drive up Waimea Canyon you will find Wai'ale'ale, known as the Wettest Spot on Earth. If you drove up here, park and take a hike around. You'll get a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. Take the time to hike around and explore a bit. It's well worth the drive. When I was up there I never ran into another person. It was a great way to spend the day. Don't forget your camera!